It's that time again. I am off on holiday for the next two weeks so you will have to do without me for while. I think Kirsten might try her hand in my absence.
Before I go, let's examine some issues regarding time shall we?
Starting with referral fees - me thinks their days may be numbered. Justice Minister Lord McNally is keen to ban them. Problem is of course - what is a referral fee? You may have read my blog concerning AXA - is your solicitor panel handling work for you for free the same thing as paying for a case? The answer is yes in my mind. So how do you ban them? After all, Personal Injury Claims may be in the headlines but referral fees or 'introductions' are paid for all manner of legal work including conveyancing. Before they were permitted, our friends Claims Direct managed to circumvent the rules with case assessment fees, client statement fees etc. You name it and there was a fee for it.
And if referrals are banned, is that going to be the end of claims management companies? The simple answer is no. They will join with solicitors - who rather conveniently will be able to offer them part of their practice in return thanks to the upcoming Alternative Business rules.
People don't like insurance companies selling their cases so the political will is to ban them but the reality is likely to mean referrals simple morph into another form.
So what about Jackson? Well the timescale still indicates October 2012 for implementation. Which in legislation terms (excluding taking the country to war) is pretty quick. This is of course notwithstanding the fact that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) is a very lengthy document. To keep the pedal to the metal, the Government has adopted the unique (and many say foolhardy) approach of fast tracking the consultation process. This has resulted in the scarcely believable time slot allocation of just 15 minutes per organisation. Now, LASPO is 187 pages long and contains no fewer than 119 sections. I calculate that they have therefore allowed each organisation to speak for just under 5 seconds per page. Now this is supposed to be the Government listening to esteemed organisations such as the Bar Council and the Law Society but clearly there is an agenda here. This procedure has judicial review written all over it. A more contemptuous attitude I could not imagine.
So the final subject on this topic is my flight time - 10 hours. It's a long way to Mauritius you see. Longer than the Government will consult in total with all interested parties in the LASPO Bill.
You couldn't make it up.
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